These things never come out right.
"Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resist." - Plutarch
It is not news that I don't put a lot of faith in a higher power. At least not one sentient enough to care whether I read its special book, get up early on sundays, or sacrifice a fatted calf in its honor. There are, though, occasions when I have serious trouble denying fate or karma or whatever name you want to attach to it. There are moments when no conscious decision is made but a seemingly insignificant action, word or phrase sets me off on an entirely new trajectory I couldn't have fathomed. Furthermore, evaluating some of the conscious decisions I've made, it seems I'd be better off leaving it for fate to decide.
"One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it." -French Proverb
Granted, conscious might not be the word for the mindset of a suddenly and severely depressed teenager staring down the barrel of a career. Fresh off a nervous breakdown, I took a long look at the art form which had gotten me out of bed in the morning and kept me out of it at night since before I could remember and responded with clenched eyes and a choice finger. At the time it, and the voices in my head, were all I had to blame for why I felt so strikingly shitty. I thought I was burned out. I didn't just make the decision not to major in theatre in college, I turned my back and nurtured a healthy loathing for the whole enterprise. I remember going to an ACT All-Night Theatre event the following year and being almost physically ill at the hugginess and support those damn theatre people showed for each other. I felt embarrassed that I'd ever been one of them. Because I was so fucking talented in my waitressing job, and an accomplished stoner to boot. Angry, sad, and then pissed off for being sad. These were the sourest of grapes. In the intervening years, I know I can count on one hand the number of times I set foot in a theatre. In the anthology of short stories about stupid decisions I've made, I call this one Tempting Fate...Like a Bitch.
Lacking a better idea I floundered for a bit, and tried my hand at flailing for a while. Dipped up and shaped some semblance of a new identity out in the hills. Suddenly it's Summer 2006.
"Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny." -Kin Hubbard
I didn't even want to go to the bar that night. I was tired, the headache was in full swing. Well, a small part of me will always want to go to the bar, but that's not the point. The point is that I didn't set out to discover I've been kidding myself for the past eight years on that particular night. I followed some friends in, made a spontaneous noise of approval at the prospect of Hedwig. Joe noticed. Mike was there, leaning against the bar. Sara remembered me. I thought maybe I could score a free show if I handed out programs or slapped around some paint. I still have no idea how I ended up in the program.
I had so much trouble containing my enthusiasm throughout the process. Yes, I loved the show, I believed in the story, I was curious to see how it would play in town. On the whole, though, I was just giddy to be back, even if I was on the bottom rung cleaning tomatoes off the floor. There were a few familiar faces sprinkled in a sea of strangers, but I felt more at home than I had in years.
So I left theatre to find myself, the irony is not lost that I was there all along. Always the last place you look. The real surprise though, was not only finding that, but also a different version. The one that flew instead of flailed. The one that stuck it out and turned the inner voices outward. I don't dare compare the talent, but I recognize the love. It touched me from a distance at first. Then one night it took a truly bizarre turn, ripped out my insides, and refused to put them back in the original order. Inspiring. Painful. Necessary.
The universe provides, I barely had to lift a finger. I'd do well to remember this in the future. I don't know when or what my next show will be, or how I'll contribute, but I can guarantee it won't be another eight years. I just got a big piece of myself back, I'm not about to give it away again.
"What do I know of man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes." -Samuel Beckett